IMG_1468-600-creamy-tuna-sandwichI had a personal breakthrough recently at the Future of Money and Technology Summit. I sat on an excellent Panel discussing non-quantifiable exchanges for an audience of about 70-80 very intelligent people.

Non Quantifiable Exchanges
Moderator: Tara Hunt, The Whuffie Factor
Chris Heuer, Social Media Club
Dan Robles, The Ingenesist Project
Micki Krimmel, NeighborGoods

I will write a post for each of these incredible panelists in the near future because each are building out the infrastructure of the new economy just by doing what they like to do most.  Soon everyone will be doing the same.

My experience

For one hour, we engaged in a remarkable conversation together. For me, it was a watershed event – I grew personally, socially, and intellectually.

Throughout the 16-year history of The Ingenesist Project, my challenge has always been to explain and demonstrate how the simple act of a conversation among informed people does, in fact, create value in a process that extends back to an intensely complicated production system. The value contained, stored, and exchanged by people is a direct result of their accumulated past and the interaction with their own environment. Until this summit – those two ends would rarely meet.

For example:

Reaching into your wallet and pulling out a dollar bill to purchase a can of tuna fish may seem like a very simple transaction. It is, in fact, intensely complicated from the funding of the fishing vessel, compliance with international law, packaging and distribution, all the way to the creation of the dollar in your wallet amplified through the miracles of the fractional reserve system. It is deeply complicated.

When we bite into our tuna sandwich, we take this complexity for granted. We are in fact, consuming the strenuous articulation of a financial system disguised as the simplicity of the checkout stand, the application of mayonnaise, and aroma of toasted wheat bread.

Similarly, for any meaningful conversation, the events prior and the effects after the conversation, for bettor or worse, reinforce the system through which future conversations will be shared.

While it would have been inappropriate to deep dive on this panel – I was able to transact effectively in this conversational currency system. I was able to come closer to communicating this comparison between the financial transaction and the knowledge transaction in a public forum than likely ever before. For this, I am deeply grateful.

No matter how you slice it:

1. The vast majority of value of an exchange has a history far greater, and future effect far longer lasting, than the transaction itself.

2. When the production systems become more integrated with markets value is created, huge shifts in value can be transferred.

3. Conversation is currency

This, I believe is the future of money and technology

The subject of privacy and anonymity are again rising up with the latest move by Facebook to integrate updates across the Internet onto the Facebook platform.

Conspiracy theories about Facebook and the CIA continue to flourish.  Meanwhile, the marketing and advertising industry seems poised to reboot their dwindling influence under a new cloak and dagger of social media data hustling and predictive demographics rather than playing by new rules of engagement.

Money is one thing and value is another.

I am astonished that people willingly and freely give up huge volumes of information about themselves when they really don’t have to.  In earlier times, marketers and advertisers would pay a great deal of money for far less information that people give them for free.  People do not understand the value that is stored between their ears or how easy it would be to set up an alternate economy that trades in social currencies.

If advertisers can pay someone to cold call me, to graph my data across the web, or sneak around my social networks, then they can certainly pay me to answer the phone.

The Ingenesist Project specifies an Innovation Economy built on the platform of social media.  While that thesis is extensive, let me summarize that the primordial soup of the Innovation Economy is called the Knowledge Asset Inventory.

Anonymous assets

One essential element of the new economic paradigm is the ability to combine knowledge assets so that innovation becomes predictable and therefore capitalized. However, a side effect is that such code makes the individual containers anonymous.  Marketers will have to pay you to find you.  here is why:

Now think about it this way – if you remove 20-dollar bill from your wallet to buy a Latte, you do not know (nor do you care) whether the last transaction performed by that 20-dollar bill was a donation to a charitable cause or a drug deal.  The dollar bill is anonymous – but you, as an asset, are not.

Social Currency is a Social Imperative

Dollar denominated money is a system to control social currency at a leverage factor of 1000:1.  Take away the dollar currency, and the leverage disappears.  Add a social currency and the national debt disappears.

Almost as a bonus, it is an absolute impossibility for marketers and advertisers to store and exchange value denominated in a social currency without extraordinary changes to the way they engage their clients….like, uhm, …don’t waste our time.

If we are smart, we can shut down the privacy issue in a hurry – anonymity of knowledge assets is the key.

I was invited to present at the Future of Money and Technology Summit in San Francisco on Monday April 26. Representing The Ingenesist Project, I’ll be seated on a panel with two very important futurists; Chris Heuer and Micki Krimmel discussing non-quantifiable exchanges. The ever esteemed and respectable Ms. Tara Hunt will be moderating the session.

From the FMTS website:

The Future of Money & Technology Summit will bring together the best and brightest thinkers around money, including visionaries, entrepreneurial business people, developers, press, investors, authors, solution providers, service providers, and organizations who work with them at the convergence of cash and commerce. We meet to discuss the evolving money ecosystem in a proactive, conducive to dealmaking environment.

What I find especially interesting is the incredible collection of technologies for the storage of value and the amazing group of entrepreneurs corresponding to the exchange of value in future markets. The definition of currency is something that is used as a medium for the storage and exchange of valuable. As such, it would be quite the understatement that the FMTS will be a valuable experience.

A great deal of thought, planning, and money has gone into these ventures and now they are together in one room. This can only be attributed to the increasing inability of the current financial system to function as an equitable means to store and exchange value that drives entrepreneurs to new conclusions.

When I witnessed the Mexican Devaluation, the social reaction was to empty out the local WalMart. Those “goods” such as clothing, appliances, and furnishings became an intermediate currency that stored the prior day’s peso value for exchange with tomorrow’s market. The same is true for most financial crises with significant devaluation events in recent history.

The clear and present difference is Social Media.

We now see people busy at work to replace the old currency with improved systems and tools for the storage and exchange of value before the actual calamity arrives. In effect, the new systems are hedging the old one.

It will take many years for the implications and importance of events such as the Future of Money and Technology Summit to make it into the case studies of the major B-school curricula. Ironically, that does not mean that real history is not being made – or shall I say, old history is not being re-made.

So please consider joining us at the conference (details). If you are attending, please, please, please, find me and let’s talk about everything. As always, thank you dear reader because ultimately you are the only reason that people want to talk to me 🙂

What’s the difference between money and value?

Today, I saw yet another doom gloom economic forecast with the proverbial exponential graph of interest-on-debt climbing out to the stratosphere. The prognosis is the same; all bad, very ‘all bad’ things will happen.

So I wonder, to whom is all this interest being paid? Where is all that money stored? It has to belong to someone or be represented by something on the planet Earth, after all, money makes the world go around.

The 1000:1 rule

If I were to take, for example, NOA, the National Oceanographic Agency, and ask someone a Goldman Sachs to place a value on it, they would add up the replacement value of all the ships and weather satellites and come up with a number like, say, 4 Billion Dollars.

Now, if I were to calculate the increase in human productivity that result directly from the ability to forecast the weather – for the purposes of food production, managing all modes of transportation, Energy production, and tangential resource allocation – the value of NOA would be in well in excess of 4 Trillion dollars. This is a factor of over 1000 between the value of the same object in financial currency and social currency.

A bridge spans a waterway and carries 50,000 cars and trucks per day. An alternate route would take each vehicle at least 1 hour longer per day to cross the waterway. 50 billion dollars worth of social value is created over the life of the bridge that cost 50 million to construct; a 1000:1 leverage ratio.

A single Boeing 747 costs 100 million dollars but increases human productivity (including influence ripples) by 100 billion dollars over the service life of the aircraft compared to the nearest alternative mode of transportation. Again, 1000:1

That’s the difference between money and value.

The problem arises because our financial system is not able to articulate true value of social currency using a dollar denominated currency so social value remains invisible, not non-existant. Maybe the financial system does not want to articulate social value. After all, dollar denominated currency represents control of social value at a ratio of 1:1000. It’s about control

9.6 Trillion dollars was spent to educate every American. Just because a “corporation” does not exist to employ them and utilize their talents to the highest productivity level, does not mean that the talent and value does not exist. According to the 1:1000 rule, The GDP of the US in Social Currency is a minimum of 9,600 Trillion. What deficit?

It is about control. The dollar has a 1:1000 control leverage over social currency. It is not at all surprising to see social media expand at the rate proportional to that which the doom-gloom crowd predicts that the financial system will collapse. They are related, they hedge each other. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Again, the imminent collapse of the financial system – no matter what the ‘doom gloom’ crowd says – does not mean that value does not exist; it simply means that the dollar will no longer control the value; that is, the social value wedged between people’s ears is free to be capitalized and securitized directly. We need to capture social currency in a new financial paradigm.

Social currency is not a buzz word, it’s an imperative – it is the Ingenesist Project


Dorothy the goldfish is imagining Elmo reading his Twitter stream… and what would it say? Who would he follow? And who would follow Elmo?

Elmo; “Computer, who’s following me on Twitter? Starbucks, Microsoft, and WalMart? Hey wait, Twitter is selling advertising. What’s up with that? Let’s ask Mr. Noodle.”

Mr. Noodle (in mime) “Everyone is promoting something on Twitter otherwise nobody would use it.”

Murray Monster: “Hey, I thought that Twitter was supposed to give everyone an even playing field. Otherwise, nobody would go to school to learn how to actually produce anything. Ovejita!!!

Ovejita (translated from Spanish): “Yeah, everyone spends time and energy building social capital in their community. Now Twitter lets rich guys can come along and just buy access. Why then should the rest of us work so hard?”

Big Bird: “Sponsored Tweets allow Brands to buy a seat at the head of the line. What about my Tweets? Does this build or diminish my social equity?”

Grouch: “Yeah, isn’t that great, Twitter is built on social currency. Now you don’t have to produce social capital, you can just buy in. Watch the social currency devalue!!”

Count Von Count; “ah ah ah, I can count the people leaving Twitter, ah, ah, ah… 50, 40, 30, 20 million,… ah ah ah”

Abby Cadabby; “I’m comfortable with who I am in a pink dress and can just cast a barrage of nasty Tweet spells on those unfair Tweeters”.

Baby Bear: “The only ones who really benefit are National and International Brands – what do they care about what happens here on Sesame Street, let alone in the forest where grandpa bear still lives?”

Grouch: “Quit complaining, the big Twitter moments will be revolutions, airplane crashes, assassinations, natural disasters, celebrity indiscretions, political extremisms, etc. I know that only the most respectable Grouchy brands will jump into any trash can that’s burning with eyeballs….can you say Voyeur?”

Burt and Ernie: “Who said Voyeur?”

Gordon the Shopkeeper: “Then there is the subject of conflict of interest. Can a brand dispel, displace, or disproportion negative Tweets by purchasing out the social media space? Will Mr. Hooper’s store have to buy tweets just to be stay in business?”

Elmo: “Thanks guys. If Twitter makes a little bit of money and goes public, they will eventually want to make more money and more money and more money until people are fighting over the next Christmas Toy Craze. Will this invite a competitor, a disruptive technology, or speculators? Let’s ask a Baby.”

Baby: [confused look]

Elmo: “Thanks baby, What does the future hold? Even Elmo has to worry about profit margins on character marketing. It’s only a matter of time before I will Tweet and my tweets will be followed – but the question becomes; by whom?”

angry-engineerEngineers are money.

China and India are producing millions of engineers as part of their global economic dominance strategy. Engineers increase productivity and productivity creates wealth. Why? Because money is only a means for storage and exchange of value and engineers create the value.

America has no idea who the engineers are

I heard an interesting comment on a group discussion board recently; “there are so many engineers on the streets that employers have their pick of the crop”.

First, I find the reference to “crops” ironic. Second, why should engineers need to fit every nuance of a job description? Engineers tell us the things that we don’t already know – who exactly writes those job descriptions if they know what they don’t know? Or in practical terms, why isn’t an Aerospace Engineer immediately qualified to be an Energy Engineer?

The Ingenesist Project identifies 3 types of knowledge assets: Social Capital refers to one’s ability to organize, perform, and manage themselves in teams of other people. Creative Capital refers to the ability to relate seemingly unrelated concepts, objects, and perceptions into new and innovative ideas. Intellectual capital refers to the ability to deploy book learning, objective reasoning, and tactical experience toward specific objectives.

Everyone has ALL of the above asset categories, however, we each posses them in different proportions. People like Steve Jobs have all of these in very high quantities, but the rest of us are somewhere in the middle. Most have a surplus in one or two at the expense of the remaining asset categories. Engineers typically enjoy a surplus of intellectual and creative capital at the expense of social capital.

Social Capital

Should we, as a society, expect engineers to meet meet the same social standards as say, Baristas? The job market favors the young, socially adept, and politically wired people. But engineers are a different – we all need them to be exactly the way they are in order for the rest of us to be who we are. If engineers were “marketers” they would either cease to be engineers or marketing would cease to be manipulative.

Who’s your money maker?

Engineers are responsible for nearly every penny of value stored and exchanged in a modern economy. Roads, infrastructure, medical devices, food production, software, hardware, housing, transportation – anything worth anything is in some way touched by God and an engineer. Engineers are responsible for creating the tangible value we enjoy so dearly but is also so easily corrupted by others.

Who is squandering whom?

So when I hear comments like; “there are so many engineers on the streets that employers have their pick of the crop”. I ask myself, “how exactly did that employer become an employer without engineers”? How does any employer expect to remain an employer without the direct, strategic, and honorable deployment of engineering assets? How does a country expect to arise from financial crisis and insurmountable debt obligation without elevating their engineers to “First-Responder” status?

I heard a story that Haiti is so poor, they would chop down a fruit tree for charcoal. Squandering engineers is like killing the golden goose. Every single engineer in America should be cherished. Every single engineer should have their pick of most qualified employers, not the other way around. Every single engineer should have a job waiting for them as soon as the prior one is finished. Engineers should be paid money, real money – not some “proxy” for money.

I guess that is could be considered sacrilege for a college professor to suggest that higher education is inadequate in some way.  My position is that the college degree must go away in favor of strategic combinations of high resolution knowledge assets.  The irony is that those who really “get it” understand “school” better than the schools.

The price of college education compared to the value of college education in society is skewing toward obsolescence. The news reports are filled with stories of unemployed MBAs and Engineers.  Over qualified, out of date, over generalized, specialized into obsolescence are all risk conditions that can make college a liability, not an asset.

There are many articles in these archives that outline my opinions on the subject. So here is what the kids say….


At the end of the day, everyone is arguing over money. How are we going to heal the poor? How are we going to police the world? How are we going to bail everyone out? How are we going to preserve the environment? The answer is always the same…it takes money to solve all of these problems.

What people do not realize is that currency is a social agreement, not a disagreement. Money is whatever people agree to use as a storage container for the value of their time, labor, intellect, or other resources. A criminal can steal your time, labor, intellect and possessions, or they can just steal your social agreements and replace them with a social disagreements.

It is easier to steal from the poor than the rich

Stealing money is not as difficult as some may think. Whenever people are held below a certain economic level, they fail to organize in communities that would otherwise protect them from outside influences. These people are often too busy holding a job, paying off debt, or traveling in search of work, or worse, a place to live – they become easy targets.

Blind leading the blind

Currency, by fiat or black market, is just a way that everyone agrees to store and exchange value. So, when people are at each other’s throats over a system of beliefs, they are effectively blinded to their true opponent – their inability to make a social agreement regarding the storage and exchange of value.

The current political strains pulling at this country are dangerous. The real problem is not your colleague or neighbor who is in favor of universal healthcare. The problem is not your old classmate on facebook calling Obama a liar. It’s OK to oppose the government – it’s our right. It’s OK to oppose bankers, they are accountable to a social charter.

The problem is that people are opposing each other.

There is no way to pay off a 50 Trillion dollar debt. All politicians know this. You would need to harvest every fish in the ocean, pump every remaining barrel of oil, and cut down every tree to extract this amount of “value” from what is left of the Earth. To whom exactly would this value be delivered and how? It simply cannot and it simply will not be repaid without some magnificent productivity gains on the order of nuclear fusion or superconductivity.

I will not speculate exactly how the currency fails. There are plenty of examples in history. Instead, I will speculate on what will replace the failed currency in the age of social media.

Social media is taking on some very fortunate characteristics, especially in the area of organizing people and communities around a common goal. Too often that common goal is to oppose another force of social media. This will change, it must change. When the dollar fails, people are going walk out their front door, look at their neighbors, and introduce themselves.

So, There you have it – that’s where all the money went. It is stored and exchanged in our social agreements.

cubscout-mainMy new favorite rebuttal to any argument from economic ailment to political controversy is: “I’d like to see a social currency thrown into the mix”.

It is really convenient to have the same position on all issues; Health Care, Terrorism, abortion, financial meltdown, education reform, and political scandal – my response is the same. “I’d like to see a social currency thrown into the mix”.

What the heck am I talking about?

Several recent blogs articles (and here, and here, and here) have converged around the idea that social currency is something that people earn from being active in a community, network, or social organization. Social Currency in lauded upon the recipient in many forms such as Google juice, respect, engagement, trust, re-tweets, reputation, merit badges, check-ins, tokens, Whuffie, wiggly worms, etc…

Regardless of what you call it, all social currencies have a very unique characteristic that differentiates them from a financial currency. Social currencies reward high integrity and punish low integrity.

Social Currency can be earned or converted:

Organizing a community around a common goal is serving a need that government and corporations do not have to fulfill in their “Social Charter”. So it has value.

  • Helping a neighbor find a job supplants the work of the government funded unemployment office.
  • Helping an elderly neighbor with their shopping supplements the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Adopting a child alleviates expenditures in the foster care system, abortion, and possibly the courts and prisons.
  • Helping local vendors stay afloat by organizing a community of group buying or groupons reduces the demands on bankruptcy courts and social services.

Social Currency can also be eliminated:

  • Public servants and politicians who squander the trust of their constituents through acts of corruption and impropriety
  • Corporations who decimate local priorities in favor of Wall Street priorities.
  • Breaking the law, endangering others, neglect, fraud, breech of social contract .
  • Consumption far in excess of social contribution.

Take any issue and apply social currency

The health care debate is an excellent example. First, let’s apply a social currency to all of the people voting on the bill. Next, let’s apply a social currency to everyone arguing against the bill. Next, let’s apply a social currency to everyone arguing in favor of the bill. Let that count establish the burden of proof of the argument.

Next, let’s pay for Health Care Reform in social currency, not financial currency. That means people with a surplus of social currency receive health care at a certain rate. People with a deficit of social currency receive health care at a different rate.

Finally, compensation to health care providers would also be biased by a social currency. Providers with a surplus of social currency are paid at a different rate than providers with a deficit of social currency.

What about cheaters?, who pays these subsidies? how do you count it?, It’s a job killer, corporations will go bankrupt, losers still lose, Holy cow, this messes everything up!!!!

Actually, it’s not much different than how we allocate money on a credit scoring basis. It’s not any more difficult to count than the blood-money coursing through the veins of an unvetted financial / insurance system. Most importantly, constraining a Financial Currency with a Social Currency sets up a whole new landscape of benchmarks and incentives that accelerate innovation, in effect, printing new currency.

That’s what I mean when I say; “I’d Like to see some Social Currency in the Mix”